Penguins Notebook: Camp boasts deeper roster than in past
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Tom Fitzgerald, assistant to the general manager who helps run the Penguins summer development camp, liked the group of prospects this year in terms of numbers, talent and what it does for the organization.
"This is not a knock to the [camp rosters] in the past, but I think overall [the talent] is getting richer," he said. "The cupboard is stacking up nicely."
A significant portion of the roster for the camp -- which concluded Saturday with a scrimmage at Consol Energy Center -- belonged to nine first-timers who were selected last month in the draft.
"It's good to come to the city, see the area, meet all the prospects," said defenseman and fifth-rounder Clark Seymour. "It's also a very competitive atmosphere. I didn't know what to expect. I'm just being a sponge."
For Swedish center Oskar Sundqvist, a third-round pick, the camp gave him a first chance to skate on the smaller North American ice surface.
"I was a little bit lost at the beginning," he said. "This means a lot to me."
Goaltender Sean Maguire, taken in the fourth round, was surprised to see a fair amount of reporters every day but decided that "it's a blast. There's nothing better than being in an NHL dressing room and being on NHL ice."
The Penguins' two first-rounders, defensemen Derrick Pouliot and Olli Maatta, are more used to attention but still appreciated the experience.
"I learned some new stuff," Pouliot said. "Every little thing they do, you can learn from. I'm just learning how to be a pro -- dressing, eating, practice habits."
Maatta was most impressed with what happened on the ice.
"You don't know how strong or high-tempo the game is, how strong the guys are, even in [development] camp," he said. "It's still ice hockey, but it's kind of a new game."
Another 2012 draftee, winger Anton Zlobin, shares a home country with Penguins center Evgeni Malkin, the reigning NHL scoring champion and MVP. But it's a rival NHL player from Russia he admires most -- Washington's Alex Ovechkin.
"Pretty much I am an Ovechkin fan," said Zlobin, picked in the sixth round last month. "I practiced with him a couple of times [in Moscow]. We just played for fun. I like how Malkin plays, but ..."
He relates more to Ovechkin.
"It's his style," said Zlobin, who had an assist in the scrimmage. "He goes in the [offensive] zone and just shoots the puck. That's what I try to do."
Zlobin is coming off of a career highlight. Last month, he scored both goals for host Shawinigan in a 2-1 overtime win against London in the deciding game of the Memorial Cup, the North American junior championship.
"The first five minutes after my [overtime] goal, I don't remember what I was doing," he said. "I was excited."
Asked if he talked about the game with fellow development campers Maatta and Scott Harrington, who play for London, Zlobin laughed.
"No, they don't want to talk to me," he said.
Goaltender Ryan Faragher was a college invitee to the camp, and if he were inclined to brag, when he returns to St. Cloud State for his sophomore season he could tell his teammates he was one of the best players in Saturday's scrimmage.
Faragher made several strong saves, including a couple of glove saves that brought him loud cheers.
"You want to get a feel for how the speed and the shots are at this level, and you get to see what it's like to be a pro and interact with guys in the organization," he said.
"You can take it back to the [college] team, share what you learned, hopefully make the team better."
First Published July 15, 2012 12:00 am